We ponder with one of Australia’s most beloved Olympic champions, Libby Trickett. Talking mental health, life-lessons and most embarrassing moments.
As one of Australia’s great Olympic champions, we have seen Libby Trickett battle it out in the pool. What we have not seen are the battles with depression that have led her to become an ambassador for Beyond Blue and R U OK?
Behind her beaming smile and warm personality, is a woman who has suffered feelings of severe hopelessness.
However, there is so much more to her narrative. This interview unravels Libby’s quirks and complexities and the wisdom she has learnt from the challenges she has faced and overcome.
You lead your life by example, and it is such a positive one for young women. If you could give your 18-year-old self one piece of golden positive wisdom, what would it be?
It’s probably quite cliché, but I would say you are enough. You don’t need to impress or be something that other people might want you to be. Being yourself is worthy enough. All the things you’ve worked through and achieved mean something. They’re all for a purpose, and although maybe you don’t see it at that time, it all turns out for the best in the long run.
What are your secret indulgences?
Ok, this is my dirty little secret. I’m obsessed with true crime. To the point where I’m getting concerned about myself. Anything I can find. Whether it’s on Netflix or a podcast.
Who is the coolest person you have ever met?
Meeting Prince William was very exciting and terrifying, I completely muffled my greeting. All you’re supposed to say is “it’s lovely to meet you Your Royal Highness”. I had verbal diarrhoea. The words just fell out of my mouth in no particular order, and then I laughed awkwardly. He was lovely about it, which made me feel less idiotic. I mean he wouldn’t remember me from a bar of soap.
What has been the funniest moment in your swimming career?
When I was about 15, I was standing on the block, and there was a bee buzzing around my head. I tried to swat at it but lost my footing and ended up slipping in such a way that I ended up falling sideways and found myself straddling the lane rope. Not funny at all at the time but it’s quite hilarious looking back on it. The whole squad was there laughing.
On a more serious note, you have struggled with your own mental health over the years. What helped you recover?
Talking about it has been an essential part of my healing process, especially after post-natal depression. I consider myself strong and independent, but I recognised that motherhood is inherently hard. Regardless if you have a unicorn baby that sleeps 12 hours a night, the different challenges and guilt that comes with parenting is difficult.
For me, as soon as I started talking about it, the response I received was amazing. Without talking about it, you can feel isolated because you don’t see how many other people are struggling and you wonder why you’re the only one not coping. That’s why if you look at my Instagram, most of it’s just poking fun at parenthood.
I think it’s important to show that truth and realness because that’s part of the beauty of life as well. It’s not all perfectly curated Instagram accounts, it’s the rawness and the realness that makes life textured and layered and colourful. Social media can be such a terrible thing in terms of creating low self-esteem.
But on the flip-side, there are these wonderful communities that can be so positive, and I certainly feel lucky with my Instagram, because I’ve received nothing but kindness from people that I may never meet physically in person.
How has your experience with depression affected your relationships?
They’ve become stronger. I know that the relationship with my husband Luke has just gone from strength to strength because we communicate. We talk about our fears.
When someone with depression reaches out, it can be hard to know what the right thing to say is. What do you recommend?
That’s part of the reason why I’ve been part of Beyond Blue and R U Ok? They have incredible resources. Don’t underestimate asking ‘are you okay’? Maybe the person isn’t ready to talk, but simply showing that you’re there and that you care, is incredibly powerful for the person that might be struggling. Equally as important is listening unconditionally. Not trying to fix them, just listening to what they’re experiencing. The next thing you can do is follow up. Often, we’re like, ‘ok I’ve asked, tick, they said they were fine, they must be fine’.
If you ask again, they might be ready to talk.